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Belgium Child Euthanasia 'Opens Door None Can Shut'

09-07-2014
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The decision by Belgium's parliament to legalize euthanasia for children of any age has opponents warning the European nation has crossed a dangerous threshold.

Pro-life protestors were out in force before the vote, with Marie Schwarz, a mother of four, saying that euthanasia is a "failure."

"It is death," she said. "It is not a pain killer."

Supporters called Belgium's euthanasia law necessary and compassionate. But critics said it's a dangerous, slippery slope.

Under the new law, if both parents agree their child should be killed, three doctors and a psychologist would then have to certify that the child was aware of the consequences of his or her decision. The child would have to be under medical care.

"We are talking about children that are really at the end of their life, and it's not that they have months or years to go. They will, their life will end anyway," Dr. Gerlant Van Berlaer, chief of clinic for pediatric critical care at the University Hospital of Brussels, explained.

"And the question they ask us is, 'Well, don't make me go in a terrible, horrifying way. Let me go now while I'm still a human being and while I'm still, while I still have my dignity,'" he said.

But critics asked how anyone could gauge a child's capacity for discernment in such a situation.

And news reports showed that when it comes to euthanasia, some Belgian doctors ignore the law and do what they think is best.

"I think the fact that Belgium is passing this law should sound as a warning bell to other countries which might be tempted to legalize euthanasia," professor Michel Ghins, co-founder of Euthanasie Stop, warned. "Because once the step has been made it's very difficult to prevent all kinds of extensions to take place."

The Catholic Church staged "a day of fasting and prayer" in protest.

"We are opening a door that nobody will be able to close," Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels Andre Leonard warned.

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